Many parents worry about their unvaccinated young ones

BUKIT MERTAJAM: Though Covid-19 is tends to be a mild disease for most children, many Malaysian parents now worry about the younger members of their families being unvaccinated.

While excited about being able to travel interstate again soon, many parents interviewed expressed their fear for their kids under 12.

Universiti Sains Malaysia virologist Dr Kumitaa Theva Das said data from around the world suggests that younger children are naturally better at dealing with Covid-19 infections.

“Young children and older adults are typically most vulnerable to other respiratory viruses, but based on global data, that’s not what we see with Covid-19 in the younger population.

“It mainly remains mild for them,” she said.

She pointed out that while children are beginning to be part of a growing percentage of new infections worldwide, this is because many more adults are vaccinated; the emergence of variants of concern is also a factor in this.

For now, Dr Kumitaa called on parents to manage risks for their young children by doing risk assessments as the nation prepares to live with Covid-19.

“Is it really necessary to take your kids along when you want to meet someone?

“If you go on a vacation with them, might it be possible to go in off-peak seasons or on weekdays so that your kids encounter fewer people?

“Is it really important to have face-to-face birthday parties? Can it be done online to keep your kids safe?” Kumitaa asked.

She called on parents and teachers to educate and create awareness on the importance of such considerations among kids.

Nurul Zawani Norizan, 34, said she had planned to take her children, aged 11, nine and five, to Pulau Langkawi but had second thoughts.

“I hesitated because they are all unvaccinated,” she said yesterday.

Nurul, who volunteers as a supervisor at a senior citizens’ service centre of the Social Welfare Department, said both her husband and her are fully vaccinated.

After a discussion, the parents agreed to only take their kids on trips within Penang.

Nurul’s husband, Mohd Al-Safrin Omar, 34, said he would be the first to agree the instant the government comes out with a plan to vaccinate children under 12.

He said having kids as young as five have made him and his wife more vigilant.

Civil servant Azmir Nordin, 41, said he and his wife longed to return to their hometown in Kuala Berang, Terengganu, when interstate travel is allowed again.

However, the fully vaccinated couple is thinking of postponing their long-delayed trip till their two children get the jab.

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